Blessed Conference in Chilly Chicago!
By Sam Nadler
Though the November weather was somewhat chilly in Chicago, the blessings of God in Messiah just keep on coming – and in so many different ways! The Word of Messiah Ministries (WMM) Conference was hosted by Olive Tree Congregation (led by Dan Strull), where I taught on the Everlasting Love of God (Jer 31:3) at their Shabbat service. This message was to set the stage for the conference. The emphasis was on God’s love in Messiah constraining our hearts to reach out to those that are loved by God, but lost in sin.
There’s a desperate need for more evangelism and discipleship everywhere – and the Midwest US is no exception. Leaders from around the region gathered for training and encouragement in bringing the Good News “to the Jew first and also to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
As many of you know, WMM is the only Jewish mission organization that has these conferences for planting new congregations and developing existing Messianic congregations – especially as it pertains to evangelism & discipleship. For, as we tell the Messianic leaders, if you’re not reaching out with the Good News, you’re ingrown and hardening your hearts to God’s call to share Messiah with others.
You may wonder how leaders respond to this straightforward encouragement. Here’s some of the responses on the feedback forms from the leaders that attended: “The emphasis and biblical order of evangelism that leads to discipleship and maturing of believers was useful and edifying. The clear teaching on Yeshua’s mandate to MAKE DISCIPLES is exhilarating & overwhelming & encouraging – it’s what we are committed to do with our whole hearts, but your teaching helped me see how to cultivate a spirit-led approach to outreach every day – and to encourage others to do the same. I’m very excited about seeing a more systematic approach to congregation-wide discipleship.” Yet another person commented: “One of the most important: De-mystify the term “Outreach/Witnessing” to ‘Making Contacts!’ – This will help re-think this teaching.”
Another wrote, “I found it most helpful to understand that discipleship training is a lifestyle, not a program.” And another person commented: “The need for prayer and commitment really impacted me. I must increase my intentional and dedicated time of prayer if I am to be more consistently reliant on God.” Because God is love, relationships are at the heart of godliness. That’s why humanity was created in His image, “male and female created He them” (Gen 1:27). That’s why it’s “not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18), and why we’ll “be known as His disciples, if we love one another” (John 13:35).
There’s no godliness without love. It is God’s love for the world that sent His love-gift, Yeshua the Messiah, to restore Jew and Gentile alike in a saving relationship to Himself by grace through faith. And it is that “love of God that is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” (Romans 5:5) to which we must yield to be His effective Good News witness.
Then, why is there not more Jewish evangelism? Believers are unyielded to Messiah’s love and unbelieving in God’s purpose for their lives – to be His witnesses! The one thing we can do here that we can’t and won’t do in heaven is share Messiah with lost people. And that’s why we’re still here! Upon your salvation, the very best thing God could have done for you was to take you home to glory, for “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), but He has us all here to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), even to the Jew first, but not to the Jew only, because He loves us all the same. We studied the urgency of the Good News witness, for “there is appointed once for a person to die and then comes the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Physical death is not the judgment, that is merely the doorway to eternal judgment. And we believers are the only ones with the ministry of mercy, for we know that Yeshua alone is “The way, The truth and The life” and that “no one comes to the Father but by” Him (John 14:16)!
We studied that we’re all called to “make disciples” by grounding and rooting new believers in the love of God by the word of God. But Messianic Discipleship is NOT Messianic Legalism! Discipleship develops our dependence on Messiah. Only to the “degree” that you died with Messiah does His love control your heart’s desire to love as God loves and to live out His blessed will for you. Prayer, devotions, community and our witness are all, both an outgrowth of abiding in Yeshua and the spiritual means of growing into Him. The results are not merely a prayer life, knowing the word, good fellowship or a bold witness –which are all very good, but the result is the life of Messiah manifested, i.e., the fruits of the Spirit that enable us, so we’ll sacrificially love God and others as we live out Yeshua’s life – even to the Jew first!
Miriam met with the women for breakout sessions to apply what we had learned, while I interacted with the men.
Outside of the conference, we were evangelizing everywhere we went and prayed with at least one person to receive the Lord (pray for your new sister in Messiah, Karol) and planted Good News seeds in many, praying for “God to give the increase” (1 Cor 3:6-7).
Thank you all for praying for the evangelism, discipleship and leadership training ministries of WMM. Now, start praying for the next Evangelism conference in Phoenix, AZ over President’s Day weekend in February 2020!
Let’s all prayerfully trust in Yeshua and commit, by His grace, to get the salt out of the salt shaker here and around the world!